Catholic Church Says Group's Claims Not True

Knoxville (WVLT) - A self help group called SNAP, the survivors network of those abused by priests, made their voice heard in Knoxville and across the country Sunday, the fifth anniversary of the sex abuse scandal in the catholic church.

Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud sat down with a leader from the Knoxville Diocese who says some of the groups' claims are totally false.

On Sunday the group SNAP stood holding signs in front of the Diocese of Knoxville with a strong message.

"We're here, a small group, standing to represent hundreds and hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse across the state of Tennessee," SNAP Coordinator Susan Vance told WVLT Sunday.

If that were the only reason they were standing here, Father Vann Johnston, Chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, says he wouldn't' mind.

"We're always supportive of anyone who wants to help the innocent, those who have been harmed," Father Johnston says.

It's the details and statistics behind their message that he says he doesn't agree with.

Father Johnston says the message they are sending is filled with inaccurate and misleading facts about the Catholic Church.

"I know the Diocese of Knoxville has a very sound policy that we have followed consistently and it's one of the strongest with regard to responding to any sexual abuse we become aware of," Father Johnston says.

But the self help group says enough isn't being done and that they continue to find victims daily.

"There have been priests assigned in almost every church across East Tennessee who were perpetrating priests who did abuse," Vance says.

"That is totally false, totally untrue," a statement Father Johnston says couldn't be further from the truth. "There are no priests on assignment that have had any allegations against them"

Father Johnston says Diocese policy specifically states if they were to ever learn of abuse in regard to a minor, they would be upfront in reporting it, and they would cooperate quickly and thoroughly with civil officials to determine if their is basis to the claims.

Father Johnston adds if anyone comes forward reporting abuse they also take special care to assist them in any sort of healing or help they may need.